There are cheap single-ear headsets, there are twin cans that cover you from the outside world and there are stupidly expensive mixable units which deliver every audio and technological advancement in one go. Yes, your choice of gaming headset has never been larger. At least if you have the spare cash that is.
But aside from those mentioned already, there is one further line of headset which really allows the wearer to show their love, their enthusiasm and their excitement for the product in hand. The officially licensed gaming headset. One like Thrustmaster’s latest Ghost Recon Wildlands powered piece of kit in fact.
The thing is, is it a case of Thrustmaster and Ubisoft working together to just plaster a name all over an average product, or does the Thrustmaster Y-350X 7.1 Powered Ghost Recon Wildlands Edition headset for Xbox One (to give it its full name) really deserve your time, attention and, most importantly, your cash?
Well, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how good it is. In fact, it’s so good, that it’s now become my daily gaming, and music listening, driver.
I’ve been lucky enough to have been hands on with Thrustmaster’s Wildlands licenced headset for Xbox One for a few weeks now, and without doubt have been hugely impressed from the very first minute. Its creation is solid, bordering on the bulky in fact, but it’s still light enough, comfortable enough and clever enough to ensure you’ll rarely realise it’s there.
The memory foam padded Ghost Recon Wildlands liveried head band has just the right squish factor and the skull emblazoned cups which sit over, and not on, your ears ensure the delightful 7.1 surround sounds it creates are thrust into your cranium with tremendous effect. With a decent degree of adjust available, no matter whether you have the biggest head, or the world’s smallest, chances are, the 350X will fit no matter what. Due to its sheer size, it may however look a tad silly on those with a smaller head, but then, this isn’t a discreet product and it was never meant be blend into the background. It’s all about showing off your love for Wildlands.
In regards that 7.1 surround sound, and even at the very highest volume, with all the explosions, chatter and more that the likes of Ubisoft’s latest open world adventure brings, things are crystal clear, giving you the biggest advantage possible, being able to pinpoint exactly where any threat may be coming from. There is next to no sound leakage from the premium 60mm/2.36” drivers either and it’s entirely possible to position yourself fairly close to your loved one, as you explore Bolivia, without them ever digging you in the ribs and asking for the volume to be switched down slightly. Those who have seen, read or heard, any of my previous headset thoughts will know that an open cup headset, no matter how expensive and no matter how many toys it comes with, isn’t a viable gaming accessory for those who don’t have their own separate mansion wing for gaming. But this one? Well, it’s suited for pretty much everything.
Voice chat is great too and even though I’ve had my usual group of online friends mention that my voice is slightly bassier to what they are used to, and I have to admit that their tones are delivered with a smidgen more bass, that’s something which is to be expected come change of headset. The main thing to worry about though is how clear and precise voice chat is, especially when directing a group to the latest objective in Wildlands and I’m pleased to say that confusion is never an issue with Thrustmaster’s latest headset.
The flexible and detachable mic which allows this voice to be heard does seem to be a little on the large side, and it would be great if it was retractable instead of detachable – especially when it is so tough to initially put on and take off – but again, it does the job asked of it and is sturdy enough to hold itself in place throughout even the longest gaming sessions. You need not worry about getting the mic boom positioned correctly either, as the lower end of it comes with enough flex to allow perfect positioning.
That same mic is available for mobile use and even though I couldn’t ever imagine walking down the street, banging out tunes and taking phone calls on this set which Thrustmaster have produced, the option is there should you wish to take it. Just get ready for some massive stares and weird looks if you ever even considered taking it outdoors.
But when you’re at home, sitting pretty and want to check out the latest tunes on either your laptop or mobile, again the sounds that the headset produce are great. I’ve never thought of myself as the king of audiophiles, but I know a good sound when I hear it and the Y-350X’s have stood up to the test of all kinds of music with ease. In fact, for the time being at least, they’ve replaced my slightly tatty, super expensive Sennheisers as cans of choice for those moments when I want to be taken away from the hassle of everyday life. Whether they’d accompany me on a road trip though, well, nah, that’s not going to be the case for they are just too large to warrant packing into the suitcase.
There isn’t enough swivel on the cups for them to be able to be worn with ease around the neck on a casual basis either, so whilst they live up to the price tag for gaming sessions, you certainly couldn’t be considering them as a fashion statement – even if the black and orange styling, with the imprinted Ghost Recon skull and Thrustmaster branding on the headband looks great.
But you see, whilst the headset itself is comfortable to wear and the audio it delivers is of a great quality, the real star of the show is that Y Sound Commander that allows you to ensure your gaming volumes are kept in check. Basically, what we’ve got here is a fancier version of the standard puck which allows the usual master volume, chat muting and game balance options. With an orange and green glow lighting up the darkest of rooms, and the chance to toggle extra over-boosted bass options with ease, the sound commander is a huge plus. Admittedly it takes a little while to learn where all the buttons are, especially when you’re engrossed in an intense session in the dark, but the buttons themselves are well positioned and work delightfully.
To compliment that Sound Commander is the in-line Y Power Pack, an addition which saves your precious controller battery. Now, in theory, this is great as any extra juice you can squeeze out of a pair of AA batteries is always appreciated – and I’m still to find its limit before things start to break down – but in reality, well, I feel that the sheer weight and bulkyness of the power pack is something I could do without. Now, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has rechargeable battery packs coming out of their ears, and charging stations ready to roll at the drop of a hat, and so the extra saving in power this pack brings isn’t really needed. At least not in my life, as once a controller dies, a second is in my hands, or at least a spare battery is slammed in within seconds. I fully appreciate the fact that Thrustmaster are trying to allow us to game longer, with less hassle, but I’ve constantly found the Y Power Pack to be left swinging around, tugging on either the controller or the headset at all times. It’s just that little bit too heavy to warrant itself as a USP and I’d be happy to roll without it. Something which gets done as soon as I need to utilise the 3.5mm jack.
It is however this power pack which houses a small micro-USB port, allowing for quick extra play and charge power. Again though, with multiple controller batteries winning the war against cabled offerings, I’d be happy to not bother with something that is so noticeable and annoying. Of course, you can still run things off the 3.5 mm jack (should you have a newer controller anyways), without bothering about the Y puck and the extra power brought from the battery pack, but then you lose the really bassy tones it brings and the proper fun of the 7.1 surround sound. It also means you have to play around with muting, and volume controls direct from your console. Something which isn’t overly desirable.
It would be nice to have seen the chance to remove the wires from the headset (if only for storage reasons), but with great sounds, superb styling and a comforting feel which you’ll never tire of, the Thrustmaster Y-350X 7.1 Powered Ghost Recon Wildlands Edition headset for Xbox One is certainly deserving of the £119.99 price tag. If you’re looking to express your love for the Ghost’s adventures in Bolivia or just need a new headset which will deliver loud, but crisp sound, whilst immersing yourself with the best audio fidelity that Ubisoft and Thrustmaster can deliver, then you really can’t go wrong.
Related: Unboxing the Thrustmaster Y-350X Ghost Recon Wildlands Headset for Xbox One